We Rays fans have been in a pit of despair these last six days, watching our perennial playoff franchise completely self destruct. The Rays have scored a combined 7 runs in 5 games and now look at the history-making prospect of digging their way back into contention.
The lone beacon of awesome in this otherwise sewer-like experience: The simple pleasure of looking out the window of our crashing spaceship to see screaming Bostonians experiencing our same plight.
However, though the Rays record and runs scored reflects genuinely awful results, we do not need to dig very deep to see the team has also received a number of unsavory gestures from Lady Luck. Consider:
Team BABIP (hitters): 0.152 (worst in the MLB)
Team BABIP (pitchers): 0.317 (2nd worst in the AL; 6th in the MLB)
Thus far in 2011, the team with the lowest BABIP against their pitchers also has the highest LOB%. What team is that? The Orioles. (Serenity now.)
Meanwhile, the Rays hitters' BABIP is a full .071 stupid, ridiculous points lower than the next nearest team (Boston at .223). Our hitters have been crazy unlucky. There's no two ways about it. Luck beasts are hating heavy on us.
Hitters' Walk %: 9.4% (4th best in the AL)
Four of the six AL teams with BB% over 9.0% have scored more than 30 runs so far. The other two are -- you guessed it -- the Red Sox (16 runs) and the Rays (7 runs).
Would you believe Jeremy Hellickson's start yesterday actually evened out some of the Rays bad LOB% luck? Before the game, we were worst in the majors, hovering around 50% (if I recall correctly). Imagine what we could do with the Orioles ungodly 87% LOB?
FIP: 2.88 (best in the AL; 2nd best in the MLB)
xFIP: 3.62 (2nd best in the AL; 4th best in the MLB)
ERA: 4.20 (7th best in the AL; 17th best in the MLB)
Things are about to turn around. You cannot have batters who are pressing while the team has a -- wait for it -- 4.20 ERA. I'm confident a mellowing is impending. *rim shot*
Also, new flash! Our relievers are in the top three of all AL bullpens according to ERA (2nd), FIP (2nd), and xFIP (3rd). EAT IT ESPN!!!
But seriously, the Rays pitchers have the best FIP and the 2nd best xFIP in the AL, yet everything else has gone to hell. Meanwhile, our walks are where we want them, our ISO is in fact better than the Orioles, but still our offense is a dirty diaper. (In all fairness, our K% is 24.7%; which is high, but not much higher than last year's 23.8%.)
In short, our pitching has been outstanding (at least given how run-tastic 2011 has been thus far), but has suffered from unfortunate timing (doubles following walks instead of leading off an inning, for example). Meanwhile, our hitters are pressing a little (raising the K%), but hitting an inordinate amount of balls DIRECTLY INTO GLOVES AND MITTS.